Widow about to lose farm of 50 years

chinamasa3HARARE - Hester Theron, a 79-year-old widowed farmer is on the brink of loosing her Beatrice farm she has owned for over half a century. (Pictured: Patrick Chinamasa Has said the government no longer recognises the SADC Tribunal that ruled against its land reforms)

Mrs Theron, owner of Fridenthal farm, a dairy and beef producing farm in Beatrice, has been dragged to court for allegedly refusing to vacate the property.

Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) president Stephanie Deon Theron, son to the widowed farmer, said the elderly farmer was about to lose what she has worked for in her life.

“It is like her whole life is being lost. She bought that farm in 1957.

There was nothing on the farm, no electricity. It was just a piece of ground. At 79, it is difficult to think she would now be supposed to go and live elsewhere,” said Theron.

Theron said the elderly farmer was being prosecuted for remaining on the farm and ignoring what he says was a fake offer letter which was given to the new owner, one Chigwedere.

“She is occupying a small potion of the farm but is being prosecuted for allegedly occupying the whole farm. The remainder of the farm, which used to produce 200 hectares of maize is now being occupied by settlers,” said Theron.

According to Theron, the farm produces 500 litres of milk a day from a head of 400 and varying quantities of beef from a beef herd of 300.

The farm also has 200 sheep and nine breeding crocodiles.

Mrs Theron appeared before the Harare magistrate’s court on Monday on the matter.

She will on 19 October this year go back to the same court for final submissions in the matter.

Mrs Theron is among the 400 commercial farmers, out of more than 4000 at the onset of Zimbabwe’s violent land reform programme in 2000, who have braved State repression in defence of her property while most white farmers have simply abandoned the fight.

But it is however less likely she will win the case given government’s hard line stance against white farmers still holding on to their land.

A despaired Theron said if they lose the case, the cattle would all be slaughtered instantly and sold as beef as they had nowhere else to continue with their operations.

Theron, 55, was himself pushed off his farm, Zanka farm also in Beatrice, by gospel musician turned Zanu PF politician, Elias Musakwa in April last year.

He was dragged to court and later convicted for remaining in the farm.

He was given a six month jail sentence which was suspended for five years.

When his farm was seized, he moved his cattle, sheep and crocodiles to his mother’s farm and continued with his operations.

At its peak, Zanka farm was producing 5000 litres of milk a day from a 1000 dairy herd. He also had 250 herd of beef, over 400 sheep and 200 crocodiles.

He now remains with 200 herd of cattle.

He lost hundreds of his cattle some of which were stolen, slaughtered indiscriminately by land invaders, snared, with some dieing through lack of grazing.

President Robert Mugabes chaotic land reforms that he says were necessary to correct a colonial land ownership system that reserved the best land for whites and banished blacks to poor soils, are blamed for plunging Zimbabwe into food shortages after Harare failed to support black villagers resettled on former white farms with inputs to maintain production.

Critics say Mugabes cronies and not ordinary peasants benefited the most from farm seizures with some of them ending up with as many as six farms each against the governments stated one-man-one-farm policy.

Poor performance in the mainstay agricultural sector has also had far reaching consequences as hundreds of thousands of workers have lost jobs while the manufacturing sector, starved of inputs from the sector, is operating below 20 percent of capacity.

Post published in: Politics

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